Since the five-nation team hopes to bring criminal charges, identifying the chain of command in the plane’s downing is vital.
Made up of representatives from the Netherlands, Ukraine, Malaysia, Belgium and Australia, the team did not know Orion’s identity on Thursday when pinning the missile strike on Russia.
On that website, the same phone number appears in a customer profile of “Oleg,” who ordered an "elevation training mask." A reporter from The Insider went to the delivery address listed on the order; it didn't exist. The reporting partners also traced the same cellphone number to a dwelling across from a military intelligence institute; the structure appears on the social-media profile of one of Ivannikov’s relatives living at the same address.
But the road continued under another name, and the street number corresponded to the entrance to the Main Intelligence Directorate of the GRU. 29, 2016, as part of the Obama administration’s retaliation for Russia's meddling in the U. Automobile registration records dating back 15 years from Rostov-on-Don, almost 600 miles straight south of Moscow, helped to confirm other key details about Ivannikov’s past.
He has virtually no Internet or social-media footprint under that name.
That invisibility is one clue to Laptev's GRU connection.
Information about Orion has been long sought by a five-nation Joint Investigation Team conducting a criminal probe of the tragedy.
The reporting team, made up of Mc Clatchy and investigative websites Bellingcat in Great Britain and The Insider in Moscow, identified the man, previously known only by his call sign Orion, as Oleg Vladimirovich Ivannikov.The Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta in July 2015 concluded that based on interviews with former separatists, Orion was a Russian military adviser.And since such advisers don’t operate in war theaters under their real names, it has been assumed Andrey Ivanovich was an alias.A report published last December by the collaborating news outlets identified Nikolai Federovich Tkachev as Delfin, the general and one of two senior officers who oversaw the movements of the BUK rocket launcher.In the intercepts, Orion and Delfin discuss transport of equipment like trailers across the border without mentioning BUKs.Ivannikov’s true name has remained hidden in part because, like other Russian officers in the GRU military intelligence unit, he does not operate under his true identity.Instead, Ivannikov appears to have been using an alternate identity: Andrey Ivanovich Laptev.Under that assumed name, he helped lead an uprising of ethnic Russians in South Ossetia, a breakaway region of the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Several English-language publications and books reference a man known as Andrey Laptev as having first been the chief of staff for a South Ossetian security council from 2004 to 2006 and then until 2008 serving as “defense minister” for separatist forces in the self-proclaimed Republic of South Ossetia.He was effectively part of what would become a private Russian shadow army that later fought in Ukraine and even later in Syria, where they took a strike in February from U. Yet Laptev appears in no photographs from the breakaway region, though the conflict stretched over more than four years.Orion complains that the military men bringing the trailers were using a map of Ukraine from 1982. so we start shooting the hell out of their planes." When a member of the reporting team called Ivannikov for comment, a relative said to call back later in the day. The Russian Defense Ministry issued a statement to state press agencies late Friday local time, dismissing the telephone intercepts between Orion and Delfin as "an old fake." Quoting the defense ministry, the Russian news site tvzvezda.ru,a nationwide TV network owned by the ministry, said Friday that the officers identified by the reporting parties in stories that ran in December and Friday were "long ago dismissed from military service." The site added that the ministry "has no information about the type of their occupation outside the armed forces." That contradicts public information in Russia cited in the December report that Tkachev was not fired, but received a prestigious award from Russian leader Vladimir Putin in 2012 and moved into reserve status.However, the day after the shootdown, the Ukrainian security service published an intercept dated two days before the incident in which Orion explicitly says "we got a BUK now. Reporting partners have determined with a high degree of probability that Orion is the Russian citizen Ivannikov, born in 1967 in what was East Germany, the son of a decorated Soviet major general.